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The Appeal to Cæsar
Summary —The Jewish Leaders Accuse Paul to Festus. Trial Before Festus at Cæsarea. Rather Than Be Sent to Jerusalem, Paul Appeals to Cæsar. King Agrippa and Bernice Visit Festus. They Ask to See and Hear Paul. On the Morrow a Meeting in Great State. King Agrippa Requested to Examine Paul That Festus May Know What to Report to Rome.
1–6. When Festus was come into the province. Had become governor of Judea. The whole province of which Judea was a part was called Syria, and was ruled by a proconsul. The divisions of one of the great proconsulships were ruled by procurators, translated “governors.” Pontius Pilate, Felix and Festus are examples of the latter. Then the high priest … informed him against Paul. Immediately after entering upon his government, Festus went from the Roman capital of Judea to its Jewish capital. The rulers did not lose this opportunity to prosecute Paul. Their aim was to have him transferred from Cæsarea to Jerusalem, and thus exposed to their murderous designs. To kill him. This was the real object of their request. Those who will read the account of these times given by Josephus, a Jew of this period, will see that such a murderous purpose is not improbable. Their purpose was for the time baffled by the decision of Festus that the case must be tried before his court in Cæsarea instead of before the Sanhedrim. Those who are able. Those possessing official power.
7–12. When he was come. When Festus had returned to Cæsarea. The Jews … laid many and grievous complaints against Paul. From the substance of Paul's reply (verse 8), it is easy to determine that these charges were about the same as before Felix, viz: (1) Teaching a new and illegal religion; (2) profaning the temple; (3) sedition, or offending against Cæsar, charges that they could not sustain. It is evident from verse 19 that particular stress was laid upon the fact that he was a “ring-leader of the Nazarenes.” 9. Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure. He desired to avoid a difficulty with them at the very beginning of his government. He therefore proposed to Paul to go to Jerusalem for 527trial. This was the request of the Jews. The charges were in great part concerning a violation of the Jewish law, and the Sanhedrim claimed jurisdiction in that case. But Paul was a Roman, hence Festus could not, without his consent, send him up to the stronghold of his enemies. He perhaps thought that Paul would appeal to his rights as a citizen, and that would prevent the necessity of a refusal to comply with the wishes of the Jews. I stand at Cæsar's judgment seat. Before a Roman tribunal. The governor was the representative of Cæsar. To be delivered over to the Sanhedrim was to be sent to certain death. Hence, he falls back on the right of every Roman citizen to appeal to Cæsar himself, or to the imperial tribunal in Rome, a right granted by law to all Romans in the provinces, an essential for protection against unjust governors. When he had conferred with the council. His own counsellors, men called “assessors,” whose duty it was to advise the governor. He then announces the decision, I suppose, in the legal language used in such cases, Hast thou appealed unto Cæsar? unto Cæsar thou shalt go.
13–27. Agrippa and Bernice came. King Agrippa II., the son of Herod Agrippa, whose death is told in 12:23. Drusilla and Bernice were his sisters. He was the last of the Herodian kings, and was at this time king of Calchis. Bernice, his beautiful sister, was one of the fairest and most dissolute women of her time. She was married several times, had been twice married before Paul saw her, and is discreditably associated with both Vespasian and Titus. The latter took her to Rome, and would have married her had it not been for the storm of public disapproval. To salute Festus. To pay their respects to the new Roman official. Festus declared Paul's cause unto the king. He did this for advice. He was really perplexed. He had just come into the province of Judea, and was not acquainted with Jewish customs. He could see nothing wrong in Paul, but the Jewish rulers accused him so vehemently that he 528was not sure that he understood the case. King Agrippa was a Jew by birth, would understand the real difference between Paul and the Sanhedrim, and could aid Festus to formulate the charges that must be sent to Rome when Paul was sent to appear before Cæsar's tribunal. Their own superstition. The Jewish religion. Unto the hearing of Augustus. One of the titles of the Roman emperor. He was styled Cæsar, Augustus, and Imperator, from whence the word emperor. On the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp. The account reads like that of an eye-witness, as it doubtless is. The gathering of a king, a princess, a great Roman representative of Cæsar, with their splendid retinues, heralds, lictors, and men at arms, as well as the great officers of the Roman army and chief men of Cæsarea, was a sight well calculated to leave a profound impression. Then Paul was brought forth before this splendid array of royalty and power. Festus said. He introduces the cause by a short explanation: (1) Ye see this man; (2) the Jews declare that he ought not to live; (3) I have found in him nothing worthy of death; (4) he had appealed to Augustus; (5) I have nothing certain 259to write in the way of charges; (6) perhaps thou, O King Agrippa, canst help me out of this difficulty. My lord. The emperor. This great occasion gave Paul a great opportunity. Instead of using it to defend himself, he preached the gospel to that great audience. His address, as given in the next chapter, is a masterpiece. 529
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